It was supposed to be a doughnut shop. When Sun Liquor Distillery closed on Capitol Hill’s Pike and Belmont, I-Miun Liu wanted to use it as the first location for Raised Donuts, a popup he’s partnered Macrina Bakery’s Mi Kim on. The doughnut plans fell through (they’re still looking for a different space), but Liu—who also owns the International District’s Eastern Cafe and various Oasis Tea Zones around the area, one only a block away on Pine and Belmont—thought it was a great location for a bar.
East Trading Company will have “a 1920s Shanghai apothecary feel” with some contemporary updates. To that end, many cocktails will come in infused with tea or herbs, and liquors will range from your boilerplate gin and whiskey to Asian rice liquors like Chinese Maotai and Korean soju and makgeolli.
An appetizer-y food menu will accompany: a variety of skewers with peanut sauce and Korean and Chinese classics like dok boki (rice cakes with spicy sauce) and jajanmyeon (cold noodles with diced vegetables). “Small dishes I grew up on, pretty much,” says Liu, who is Chinese and was born in Korea, though he grew up largely in the U.S. When his parents immigrated from Korea in the '80s they worked in restaurants—his dad cooked, his mom waited tables—and in the early '90s opened their own Chinese-American place in the Edmonds area. This led Liu eventually to opening Oasis Tea Zone in the International District in 2001. Since then he’s continued to do what he loves most: create spaces.
Thus to round out the atmosphere at East Trading Company, Liu will add playful, mercantile-like touches: “We’ll be selling cigarettes, we’ll have a little rack of Asian hard candies or preserved plums or Tiger Balm.” Electric Coffin—a design studio that has work all over town, at places like Joule and Westward and who did the rocket man piece for the Capitol Hill Oasis (which is a block away from East Trading Company)—will contribute some prints.
Liu’s main aim is to create another community hub, like Eastern Café and Oasis. “Product is obviously important. But hopefully this will be a really casual bar that people can get a dish, maybe a small drink, and not have it really expensive, so they can really relax.”
As with nearly every restaurant and bar, initial plans to open in October have now been bumped to November.